Once again the book I am reading has me thinking. When did money become the ruler of conscience? Americans, for the most part, are the product of immigrants, and most of our forefathers came with little more than the shirts on their back. My grandfather came from Russia in the early nineteen hundreds. He left my grandmother so he could build a better life for her. He toiled as a baker for ten years, forming bagels and challah through the night hours, until he could afford to bring her here and start a family. His story was not an unusual one for people coming to America, but some became wildly financially successful. They believed they had found the American dream. They ran companies that grew bigger and more successful at the expense of many low earning workers. Somewhere along the line, some of those business owners and CEOs started to believe that they were just a little more important than those who worked to make them successful. They soon convinced themselves that they were due most of the earnings because they were just that important. Then, when the economy started failing, they convinced themselves that it was morally okay to take the money and run, leaving many workers without jobs, pensions and health care. The Alligator Man by James Sheehan shows what can happen to the men who get to the top and the men who they step on to get there.
Of course not all men get to the top by stepping on people. Some get their by stepping up for people. I am reading a book called The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change. The author, Adam Braun, believes he is an ordinary man. He was on his way to a very successful Wall Street career when he realized that he needed to do more in his life. While traveling through India he met a child who was begging on the streets. Adam asked the child what one thing he wanted more than anything, and the child said, "a pencil." This led him to leave an extremely prestigious job, invest a mere $25, and start Pencils of Promise. From this small beginning, Adam Braun has started more than 200 schools around the world. I read about people like this whenever I can to remind me that there are many good people in the world, and we need to make sure that our children continue to have these heroes to look up to when things get rough.
Unfortunately some of the heroes that enamored us a few decades ago are proving to be less than heroic. The news is now filled with sports figures who believe that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want to, to whomever they please. That is a story for another day though. I must go do some cooking for our holiday dinner. I wish all of you who celebrate (and all of you who don't ) a very happy and healthy new year.